CEN Resources - Interviewing Tips

Prepare Your Mind

Know Yourself:
  • Strengths, weaknesses
  • Interests
  • Values
  • Skills (critical thinking, problem solving, organizational, communication, leadership, supervision)
Prepare your materials:
  • Resume & Cover Letter
  • References
  • Transcripts
  • Professional pen & notebook or portfolio
Company Research:
  • Array of product lines or services.
  • Organization name.
  • Corporate location(s).
  • Relative size of organization.
  • Growth potential for the industry.
  • Who is the competition.
  • Organizational structure.
  • People you know in the organization.
  • Typical career path in your field.
  • Organizational goals.
  • Community support programs.

Prepare Your Attire

Interview Attire for women:
  • The suit need to be conservative; avoid fashions that will go out of style. Choose conservative colors such as navy, black, gray or tan. Make sure the skirt length is just at knee length.
  • Shoes & hosiery - do not wear heels taller than two inches or open toe or open heel shoes. Shoe color should coordinate with your ensemble and remain neutral. You need to wear hosiery that is close to your skin color.
  • The blouse need to be a neutral color such as white or beige. Avoid bright colors, large prints and trendy styles. DO NOT wear a low cut blouse.
  • Make-up & jewelry should be minimal. Avoid excessive amounts and bright colors. Avoid costume jewelry; stick to silver, gold or pearls.
Interview Attire for men:
  • The suit should be a dark solid color, such as navy or gray. The length of the pants in front should touch the front of the shoe.
  • the dress shirt should be a good fit and neatly pressed. Best colors include white, pale blue, tan or yellow.
  • The tie reveals you style. Make sure it does not extend below your belt. It should coordinate with your suit and be conservative for the interview.
  • The shoes should be in good repair. Best choice is a conservative style with laces. Wear them with a new shine and dark socks. Best colors are black, brown, or burgundy and should match your belt.

Types of Interviews

Directed/Structured Interview:
  • Formal and direct.
  • Guided by the interviewer.
  • Questions are mostly job related.
  • A no-nonsense style.
Behavioral Interview:
  • Open ended questions.
  • Relaxed style conducive to uncovering candidate's personality.
  • Be assertive & stay away from two or three word answers.
Stress Interview
  • Sometimes used when job has strict guidelines.
  • Purposeful long gaps of silence.
  • Discover how candidate responds to high pressure situations.
Telephone Interview
  • Often used to narrow job pool.
  • Many times the interview is a panel interview.
Group Interview
  • Several candidates are interviewed at the same time.
  • Sometimes used with large organizations that hire large numbers.
Panel Interview
  • More than one interviewer posing questions.
  • Many times there are set questions asked by all candidates.
  • Helpful hint - maintain eye contact with the interviewer posing the question.

Stages of an Interviews

Introductory Phase (2-5 minutes)
  • Shake hands
  • Use interviewer's name
  • Make sure interviewer has your resume
  • Project positive attitude and enthusiasm
Qualification Assessment (15-20 minutes)
  • Questions regarding goals, objectives, education, experience, interests, activities
  • Listen actively
  • Watch for cues for feedback
  • Show pride in past performance
  • Answer complete, clear. concise, and true
  • No "yes" or "no" answers
Organizational Information Phase (10-20 minutes)
  • Listen.
  • Clarify any questions about job-organization.
  • Ask interviewer 5-6 prepared questions.
Termination Phase (1-2 minutes)
  • Briefly summarize your strongest qualification.
  • Express enthusiasm for the job.
  • Make certain you understand next step.
  • Thank interviewer.
Source: Career Services at the University of Minnesota

Be a S.T.A.R.!

Situation or Task: Describe the situation you were in or the task you needed to accomplish. You must describe a specific event or situation, not a generalized description of what you have done in the past. Be sure to give enough detail for the interviewer to understand. This situation can be from a previous job, from a volunteer experience, or any relevant event.

Action You Took: Describe the action you took and be sure to keep the focus on you. Even if you are discussing a group project or effort, describe what you did - not the efforts of the team. Don't tell what you might do, tell what you did.

Results You Achieved: What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn?

Sample Behavioral Questions:
  • Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
  • Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.
  • By providing examples, convince me that you can adapt to a wide variety of people, situations and environments.
  • Describe a time on any job you have held in which you were faced with problems or stresses that tested your coping skills.
  • Give an example of a time when you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision.
  • Tell me about a time you had to use your written communication skills in order to get an important point across.
  • See www.uncw.edu/stuaff/career/students/interviewing for more sample questions.
Source: www.quintcareers.com

Sample Questions

Questions They Ask:
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why should I hire you?
  • What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • What are you long-term goals?
  • Describe your working style?
  • How do you prefer to be supervised?
  • Give some examples of your initiative, willingness to work & leadership skills.
  • How well do you work under pressure?
  • How do you handle stress?
  • Do you have any questions for me/us?
Questions You Ask:
  • What are the specific duties required?
  • What characteristics do you look for in applicants?
  • Please tell me about your own experiences with the organization.
  • What are current challenges here?
  • How is the position evaluated?

Illegal Questions

Consider your options:
  • Refuse to answer - this can tell the employer you think the question is improper.
  • Answer the question - you decide to swallow your pride and privacy.
  • Answer the legitimate question and ignore the illegal or improper questions.
  • Ask a question rather then answer the improper question. When in doubt, ask for clarification.

Evaluation of Interview

The employer will consider the following in evaluating your interview:
  • Your handshake, attire, eye contact, etc.
  • A demonstration of awareness of the company/organization.
  • Relevant questions asked.
  • Responsive listening.
  • Enthusiasm about their company.
  • Ability to fit in with the company.
  • A fit between company needs & your talent/skill.
  • Motivation and energy level.
  • Attitudes towards work, self & others.
  • Ability to lead or supervise.

After the Interview

Evaluate the Interview:
  • Make notes to yourself.
  • Write down key things that were said - These can be used in your thank you letter.
Follow-up Correspondence:
  • Send thank you letter within 24 hours of the interview. You may e-mail or fax your thank you letter but always send a hard copy in the mail for follow-up.
  • Complete any written applications and forms requested.